Monday, January 15, 2018

The Ways of Writing

 Everybody has their own way of doing things.  For instance, I like to do dishes in the morning, but my mom shudders at the thought of leaving dishes in the sink overnight.  But I'm usually working after dinner, so the dishes get left until morning.  (Thankfully, Hubs is totally cool with that.)

Just like dishes, there are different ways to write a book (or do anything else, come to think of it). 

There are two basic ways to write in the world and two basic types of writer - the plotter and the pantser.

The plotter plots out the whole book before they write it.  The pantser doesn't plot out a damn thing and writes everything as it comes to them (hence, writing by the seat of one's pants = pantser*).

Of course, there are varying shades of both.  Personally, I consider myself a plansterer.  I have a plan in mind, but I write it all by the seat of my pants as it comes to me, and it changes - sometimes without my wanting or needing it to.  A friend of mind calls herself a puzzler and puts her books together like a sort of big jigsaw puzzle.

Some people outline.  Some people write the last chapter first.  Some people write a bit here and then a bit there.  Some people write straight through.

Personally, I'm a straight through writer.  Start and the beginning and when you get to the end, stop. (Yes, that is the Mad Hatter talking there.)   Totally linear.  I can't do it any other way.

Which, of course, doesn't mean that any other way is wrong.  They're just not right ways for me.  I've also tried outlining.  :shudder:  It didn't go well.  The beginning of that book, before I gave up and pantsed it, is so bleh I could cry.

Anyway, there was a point to this post when I started it.  Right now, I'm working on editing Early Grave.  I wrote it like I write all my books, with one exception.  I started it and then stopped and then wrote some more and then stopped, then I got stuck and didn't write on it for a while, then I unstuck myself and wrote the rest of it in a fury.  So, it's in a line, but it's a severely dotted line - like Morse code done by a madman.  I'm reading along making notes and I'm like 'wait, what', which leads to furious scribbling of notes on how to fix what obviously went very wrong between one spot and the next.  It's the definition of 'hot mess'.  :shudder:

I did it that way because I was trying to write that book between editing several other books.  And I now know that way of doing things makes editing out the other end a pain in the buns.  Unfortunately, I may have to do it again because the publication schedule waits for no man.  I can't just say 'hey, can you pause this for a six weeks so I can get this first draft written?' :shrug:  It is what it is.

What way do you do it?  Have you ever tried another way? 

*Not to be confused with the Panzer, which was a German tank.  Although, there could be a tank-like roll over everything element in there, I guess.


  1. I started out as a pantster (4 or 5 books that way). It all stopped when I was several weeks from deadline and had a huge plot hole that nearly made me have to scrap the project. Had to ask for a deadline extension from Penguin, which wasn't fun. Since then, I've been a reluctant plotter, although I'm not afraid of straying off the outline. :)

    1. Plot holes! Argh! They're bad enough with a self-imposed deadline. I can't imagine a hard deadline with a publisher. I'd probably become a bit of a plotter in that circumstance, too.

  2. *raises hand* I would be the puzzler of whence you speak. I also do other things. I think personal process is covered in crazysauce for every writer. For my Harlequins, I have to be something of a plotter because I have to submit a synopsis that must be approved before I can write the story. Once that's in place, I puzzle all over the place. I used to be a pantser, having an overall idea of the characters and a smidgen of plot and that developed into my puzzler phase. Going into a new WIP, I know my characters. I have a decent idea of where the book starts and what needs to happen before I type the end. With that in hand, I turn the characters loose. I do end up writing of lot of the book in linear fashion but when I get an idea/inspiration/prompt that leads to a scene, I write that puppy down! And save it to insert at the correct point. Thank the writing gods for Scrivener!

  3. I'm a frenetic plotter at the chapter level, but I think I'm a puzzler at the scene level, since I often say, "How will I ever get from A to B in this $**@ outline!"

    The mere though of pantsing a whole novel gives me a tummy ache. ;-)